Safaricom to roll-out utilities payment service in Kenya
Kenyan operator Safaricom will launch a mobile service later this year to enable subscribers to pay for electricity and water bills. The company is in talks with Kenya Power and Lighting Company as well water service companies to search for methods for the launch of the service.
In related news, Safaricom’s SMS-based mobile payments service M-Pesa has reached 5 million registered customers, with M-Pesa person-to-person transfers totalling EUR 135, 558 million (KES 14 billion) in December last year. Though M-Pesa is supposed to merely be a money transfer system, the service is also used by clients to store money, to settle bills and buy services.
The success of M-Pesa has resulted in accusations made by the local banks. In December 2008, Finance minister John Michuki ordered an audit of Safaricom’s M-Pesa due to safety concerns regarding users’ money. Safaricom’s CEO Michael Joseph recently told a media briefing that the planned M-Pesa audit by the government is yet to take place a month after Finance Minister John Michuki instructed the Central Bank of Kenya to scrutinise the domestic money transfer service. Safaricom also plans to launch an international money transfer service to tap remittances flowing into the country from UK, which is still awaiting the approval from the banking regulators.